Blue Suede Mel (Various Artists)
darkHorse t.r.a.d.i.t.i.o.n.s, RCD-20160

One glance at the cover of this new compilation album makes you wonder who "Mel" is. It seems that Mel is either a dog that looks like a pig, or a pig that looks like a dog, you tell me. Mel appears to be the mascot or the theme of darkHorse Traditions, he or she showed up on an earlier darkHorse release titled "Mel's Diner", an all-star traditonal country music collection, was seen in the presence of some beautiful showgirls in Vegas, and now Mel is posing on stage wearing, you guessed it, blue suede shoes. Apparently, Mel is trying to tell us this album is all about rock 'n' roll, although there's also some traditional country to be found here.

The opener is no one less than the legendary Sun rocker Billy Lee Riley with his classic "Fast Livin'", which he first released on Mojo Records in 1961, followed by Canada's own Lindsay Morgan with "I Do What I Do", a catchy swinging danceable rock 'n' roll track. And then we got some more traditional rockin' with Lynne Wilson & The Rebels' "Don't Break My Heart".

For some good old rockabilly (the real stuff) Stan Perkins teamed up with Ian B. MacLeod, a pair of rockabilly buddies "Pickin' Like Perkins". A decent piano country rocker is Kim Doolittle's (also from Canada) "Love Was A Good Thing". Then there's Mark LaForme's "Little Rockin' With Cindy-Lu" from his album "Mark's No Frills" (RotoNoto, 1997). This is a real gone rocker, but if you also dig some good old rhythm & blues, you should really check out Mark's No Frills!

A little more country music with a rockabilly beat comes from Detroit's Mary Livingston with a cool "Bad News". After this the pace slows down with traditional country music on Sharon Westlake's "The Rains Came", a song that doesn't quite fit in on this album, it's got no rock and no roll, but Sharon sure does have a beautiful voice. Loretta Cooper mixes in a lot more rhythm on her country style "Key Of Love", with great piano interludes. Ramsey Kearney's "Keep It Country" rolls on by with fabulous fiddles, but no rock. Guess he just wants to keep it country.

Next is the contagiously catchy fun song "Party Shoes" by Laurie McLune, which holds the middle between country, rock and rhythm & blues. Next Joey Sloan makes you "An You An Offer You Can't Refuse". Joey Sloan passed away in mid-december 2002. He will be missed on the Canadian country scene. On with some up-tempo hillbilly pickin' on Jim Fullen's "Up On The Mountain" from his recent Cromstock release. Last but not least is the debut release from a young Canadian talent destined for bigger things, says musicologist Marvin Tweeter, who also provided some of the information I used in this review.

darkHorse t.r.a.d.i.t.i.o.n.s
Randall Cousins
371 Hansen North
Brampton, Ontario
L6V 3T5, Canada

A & R * Music Director
Dann Hansen
Vestervaenget 18, 1. t.h.
DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark

darkHorse website:

Marvin Tweeter review:

Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2003